True luck for Iraqi Paralympian
WHEN Ahmed Kelly was told he was leaving Iraq for treatment in Australia, he envisaged a sterile life condemned to a hospital bed. Now the North Melbourne resident, who was born with disabilities in all four of his limbs, is heading to London for a tilt at swimming glory at his first Paralympics.
Growing up in a Baghdad orphanage for children with disabilities, Kelly used to wait at the window, watching kids heading off to school and hoping that one day he would join them. He and his brother Emmanuel were the "fortunate" ones at the home, he said, able to move around without any assistance.
"The nuns do a fantastic job raising that many kids. It's such a credit to them," Kelly said. An amputee from both his elbows and knees down, Kelly quickly dismissed any thought that life just may have dealt him a tough lot.
The 21-year-old was instead grateful to the opportunities given to him, especially at being adopted by Moira Kelly of the Children First Foundation. "When I left (Baghdad) I was told by mum we were trying to come here to see what the doctors can do and hopefully make a better life," Kelly said.
"I thought of Australia just being like a hospital bed - I was going to be in a hospital bed and that was it. "It never occurred to me the freedom - that I'd be thriving in sports, having the opportunity to go to school." Small fragments of memory remain of his early years in Baghdad.
But although grateful to those who raised him, he doesn't dwell on the past. His eyes are firmly set on this month's London meet, where he will compete in the 50m and 100m breaststroke events. "Hopefully I'll swim a personal best and I'd definitely like a world record in the end result. "And with the world record would come gold so that would be a dream."
Kelly encouraged young people with disabilities to pursue their Paralympic dreams - but only if they loved their chosen sport. "It's a tough road - the early mornings, the tough training and floggings in the water. "You need to be able to enjoy it."Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook 0 comments Links to this post Record Paralympic ticket sales announced
With just three weeks to go to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has confirmed that a record 2.1 million Paralympic tickets have already now been sold.
With over 600,000 tickets purchased in the last month, the total number of Paralympic tickets sold has now surpassed the previous record of 1.8 million tickets sold in 2008 for the Beijing Games. Seb Coe, LOCOG Chair, said: “We are absolutely delighted with how the British public has responded so far to tickets for the Paralympic Games.
The Olympic Games have shown us that the UK has taken the Games to their heart and with the tickets sold so far and more still to come. 2.5 million Paralympic tickets have been put on sale in total. Prices start at just £10 (£5 for young people and seniors). Remaining Paralympic tickets are available now at www.tickets.london2012.com.
More tickets will be available online next week. Currently there is good availability for sports at ExCeL – including Wheelchair Fencing, Sitting Volleyball, Boccia and Powerlifting. £15 tickets to these sports include a £10 ExCeL Day Pass ticket. The Day Pass ticket presents the opportunity to see up to five sports in ExCeL on the same day on a first come, first served, general admission basis.
There is also availability for the Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies in the higher price brackets (£250 up to top price £500). Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee said: “To have sold the most ever tickets for a Paralympic Games three weeks before the Opening Ceremony is absolutely fantastic and shows the insatiable appetite the public has for top class elite sport.
“Normally the busiest sales period for the Paralympic Games is once the Olympics have begun. The difference in London however is that ahead of the Games starting we had sold over 1.4 million tickets, giving us a great platform with which to build from. “So far London has delivered a quite spectacular Olympic Games which has further whetted the appetite of the public ahead of the Paralympics.
This combined with some superb LOCOG PR and marketing activity, excellent Paralympic awareness campaigns from all sponsors and many broadcasters around the globe has resulted in the record demand for tickets. “Our aim now is to sell every single ticket. It would be a fitting that when the Paralympic Movement returns to its spiritual birthplace in three weeks time it does so in front of packed sold-out venues.”
Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association, said: "We want everyone to get behind ParalympicsGB in the way they have behind Team GB - it will make a difference. So spread the word, there are still tickets available, especially in venues like ExCeL, where people can see Boccia, Wheelchair Fencing, Sitting Volleyball and Powerlifting.
"I can promise exhilarating sport in stunning venues with all our GB athletes ready to put it all on the line for our country. I know our athletes can’t wait to compete in front of the biggest crowds ever at a Paralympic Games and we want them to be full of British fans.”
In recognition of Visa's longstanding support of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, only Visa (debit, credit and prepaid) can be used to purchase tickets. For applicants outside of the UK, a full list of Authorised Ticket Resellers is available on the London 2012 ticketing website. Customers are advised to purchase London 2012 Paralympic Games tickets only through official sources.
Check out Channel 4 - the official broadcaster of the London 2012 Paralympic Games http://paralympics.channel4.com/